ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) — The city of Philadelphia has launched an investigation into additional “informal complaints” at a downtown Starbucks shop where witnesses said two black men were arrested for doing nothing more than sitting at a table.
Philadephia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that the city’s Commission on Human Relations will look into other reported instances at the Centre City area shop.
“The PCHR has received informal complaints about the specific Starbucks location since the matter arose,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday. “Any information regarding these complaints are part of our current investigation, and thus are deemed confidential.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Johnson, the coffee giant’s chief executive officer, met on Monday with the two men who were removed from the Starbucks after a manager called the cops on Thursday to report they were trespassing and refusing requests to leave the establishment.
Starbucks told ABC News on Monday that the manager, who has not been identified, no longer works for the company.
In an interview with ABC New’s “Good Morning America” on Monday morning, Johnson said he wanted to meet the men and apologize for the “reprehensible” ordeal they went through. He said it “was completely inappropriate to engage the police” in the incident.
The two men at the center of the controversy have yet to be identified or speak publicly about what happened to them at the Starbucks, where protesters have staged demonstrations the last two days that included sit-ins inside the shop.
Mayor Kenney said the city Commission on Human Relations “will be working to better understand the circumstances that led to this incident and additional reports that have come to their attention about this specific location.”
Neither Kenny or a spokeswoman for the Commission on Human Relations would offer details of the other incidents at the Starbucks shop in question.
The arrests of the men were captured on video and tweeted by Melissa DePino, a 50-year-old mother of two who told ABC News she has vowed not to patronize Starbucks again. The video has since been viewed millions of times.
DePino said the men were doing nothing more than sitting at a table when police officers entered the shop, put them in handcuffs and hauled them away.
“It was humiliating for those guys,” DePino said. “They were completely minding their own business.”
But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said officers responded to a 911 call of the men trespassing and refusing the requests from employees to leave after being told they couldn’t use the restroom without buying something.
Ross said the men were arrested when they refused to budge after police “politely” asked them several times to leave.
“So the police get there and they are confronted by the same type of attitude and repeatedly are told that they are not leaving. In fact, there is some alleged rhetoric about ‘you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re a $45,000-a-year employee’ or something to that regard,” Ross said in a video statement Saturday.
The men were later released after Starbucks officials refused to press charges.
The Philadelphia Police Department on Tuesday said it did not have a new comment beyond Ross’ video statement.
Kenney, meanwhile, released an earlier statement saying the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
The mayor said he met with Johnson and Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’s chief operating officer, on Monday to discuss the controversy.
“I believe Starbucks will cooperate fully with our probes of the matter, particularly the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations’ review of Starbucks’ policies,” Kenny said in his statement. “All parties agree that the outcome of this incident was extremely unfortunate and that’s why we are reviewing the incident seriously.
“This is not just a Starbucks issue. This is a societal issue. People can react differently to others based on skin color, and that is wrong. We have work to do, and we need to do so productively.”
He said the Commission on Human Relations will also review Starbucks’ “policies, guidelines and procedures” and collect information on the demographics of the company’s workforce and management.
In his interview on GMA, Johnson said he will order managers of Starbucks’ stores to undergo training on how to spot “unconscious bias.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.